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"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
Six Weeks Later
The NFL's Wildcard Weekend taught us to forget anything we've learnt, even if it was only six weeks ago. This column was taking a pause back then (mercifully denying me another opportunity to get it all wrong) but here's a snapshot of the world as it looked at the end of November:
The McNabb era is over in Philadelphia, who look to miss the playoffs again. After an embarrassing non–win against the Bengals, Andy Reid — also clearly a spent force in Philly — hooks Donovan out of their one–sided battle with Baltimore, Kevin Kolb taking McNabb's place. Not that it alters a 36–7 drubbing by the Ravens, but the writing is on the wall that it is the end of an era in Philly.
Indianapolis' winning streak continues, as Adam Vinatieri kicks a 51–yard field goal to avoid overtime and send the Chargers to yet another loss. San Diego are now at 4–7, and though statistically possible, it looks extremely unlikely that The American's pick for Superbowl glory is even going to make the playoffs. San Diego's next game against Atlanta looks like a must–win. [They lost]
Atlanta look phenomenally hot, with a 45–28 victory over Carolina that belies the inexperience of their rookie QB, while Michael Turner looks unstoppable, rushing for 117 yards and FOUR touchdowns.
Elsewhere, the Giants beat the Cardinals — Edgerrin James has one carry for minus one yard and would appear to have ceded his start role to Tim Hightower now; Minnesota destroy Jacksonville 30–12; and New England prove to Miami that they still have what it takes (although the Jets are clearly THE team in the AFC East and perhaps the entire AFC after shocking Tennessee, 34–13).
Just six weeks.
Fast forward and we have McNabb unquestioned as leader of the Eagles as they down the Vikings, the Chargers not only in the playoffs, but progressing with revenge over the Colts (with a gimpy Antonio Gates, and diminutive Darren Sproles carrying the rushing load), and Atlanta's run ending courtesy of a envigorated Cardinals team that for the last few weeks of the regular season looked comatose.
Which has me pondering the following:
1. If he can get a 100–yard game out of Darren Sproles, and beat the Colts without LT, is it about time we started giving Norv Turner come credit for the Chargers' current 5–game winning streak? They've learnt to shut out the pre–season hype and the late–season pressure, and finally seem focused. If Turner wins one more, he'll have taken San Diego further than Marty Schottenheimer ever did.
2. The only team back then to have been playing at the same standard this week — and throughout the season — was Baltimore. The Ravens lost to Tennessee by a field goal in their fourth game of the season, a game in which Joe Flacco threw two interceptions. With thirteen more games under his belt, do I sniff an upset to come?
3. I'm struck by the similarities between the Warner–era Rams and the Warner–era Cardinals — not just the way Warner feeds the ball to his fleet receivers, not just that in both cases the running game employs a former Colts starter, but the way that the defense, while not great, shows just enough to get the job done. And as with the ‘99 Rams, I still won't believe it until it happens.
4. With the Chargers banged up, and the Cardinals unconvincing beyond this past weekend's game, No.1 seeds Tennessee and New York might be wondering how they're the ones facing Baltimore and Philadelphia respectively — two opponents clearly firing in all three phases of the game. Again, seeding the playoffs with divisional winners ranked ahead of wildcards, regardless of record, seems to be working against common sense.
A Senior Bowl Plea
So, from 2010, the NFL will be keeping the Pro Bowl on the mainland, with Miami the site rather than Hawaii for the first time in almost three decades. It seems that the cost of all that jet–setting is just a little rich for these credit–crunchy times, especially for an event which has limited relevance.
Personally, I could do without the Pro Bowl entirely. I just wish Sky Sports would let us see the Senior Bowl instead, a game with considerably more relevance, and a better sneak peak at some of the talent that they will be televising the following season than their truncated (though welcome) draft coverage.